All the attention usually goes to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but sometimes the most important moves come after that date, during the waiver-wire period. This period lasts until Aug. 31, as rosters need to be set by Sept. 1 in order for players to be eligible for postseason play.
The way it works is one team puts a player on waivers, and if another team places a claim on him, the player's team can either choose to dump him and his contract on the claiming team for nothing in return, try to negotiate a trade with the claiming team or pull the player back. A team can try to pass a player through waivers a second time, but if claimed, that player cannot be pulled back.
Teams also sometimes place claims on players they don't even want, for the sole purpose of blocking that player from going to their divisional competition. However, by doing this, they run the risk of getting stuck with this player for the remainder of his contract. It takes some maneuvering by the general managers to make waiver-wire deals work, but when they do, they can help their teams and maybe even provide that one final push to get to the playoffs.
So, let's examine which areas each of the contenders need help in and what potential players could be brought in to provide some relief.